At long last, this nightmare Season of the Tank has come to a conclusion. The Chicago Bulls finished their 2017-2018 campaign (27-55) with a spectacular loss to the Detroit Pistons: 119-87. With that loss they were in sole possession of the 7th worst record in the NBA, but the night was not over. They could still sink lower. If, by some miracle, the lowly Sacramento Kings beat the Houston Rockets (best record in the NBA), then the Bulls would slip into a tie for the 6th worst record in the NBA. Their odds of landing a top draft pick from the lottery would increase substantially. All the losing this season might be worth it…

The Sacramento Kings won!

Wonder of Wonders!!!

Going into the night, this was the best outcome the Bulls could have hoped for. After winning 3 games in a row over a week ago, and squandering their chances at a top 5 seed in the Draft Lottery, the Bulls needed to lose out, and their nearest competitors, the Kings, Brooklyn Nets, and New York Knicks, needed to win games. The plan came together. The Bulls lost their last 4 games of the season. The Brooklyn Nets foolishly beat the Bulls twice during that stretch, New York won a game, and the Sacramento Kings held off a resting Houston Rockets to complete the Chicago Tank Job.

As a co-owners of the 6th worst record in the NBA, the Bulls now have an 18.3% chance at a top 3 pick, and a 5.3% chance at the #1 pick overall in the draft (per Tankathon.com). And I am a slightly less bitter Bulls fan today!

While the Bulls and Kings may share the same odds at getting a top pick during the Lottery, a random drawing (that takes place this Friday) will determine their seed order. That is, the random drawing determines if the Bulls or Kings are seeded 6th or 7th at the Lottery. So, if both teams fail to move up during the Lottery, then that drawing will decide if the Bulls get to pick before or after the Kings at the draft. Feeling confused? We’ll come back to it. For now, let’s move on…

What of the Bulls other first round pick? You know. The one they received from the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the mid-season trade for Nikola Mirotic? Where did that pick end up? In a four way tie for 20th overall.

The New Orleans Pelicans have been in a dog fight the last two months of the season, trying desperately to make the playoffs in the contentious Western Conference. It came down to the last couple games, but they were triumphant in their goal. That’s great. Congratulations New Orleans. But it certainly popped the Bulls dream of two Lottery picks.

Because of the four way tie at #20, the overall number that the Pelicans pick becomes is dependent on a tie-breaker. If I understand the tie-breaker rules for the draft correctly (there is no guarantee that I do), the draft order of non-lottery teams that finish the season with the same record is determined by another random drawing. That means the New Orleans pick will fall anywhere between #20 and #23 overall.

When will all of these random tie-breaker drawings happen? This Friday, April 13th.

What We Will Know, and When We Will Know It

Let’s take it slow and walk our way through this mess…

On Friday night, April 13th, we will know what number overall the New Orleans pick will be (somewhere between #20 and #23 overall), and we will know what the Bulls Lottery seed will be (6th or 7th).

Tuesday, May 15th, the NBA Draft Lottery will be held in Chicago. When the Lottery is complete we will know if the Bulls have moved into the top 3 of the draft. If they do not move into the top 3, then they will pick anywhere between 6th and 10th overall depending on what their Lottery seed is, and if any teams leap frog them into the top 3.

All of it, the tanking, the percentages, the tie-breakers, the Lottery drawings, culminates in the NBA Draft on Thursday, June 21st. By that time, the only question left to be asked is: who will the Bulls select?

Markkanen Notes:

Lauri Markkanen had another efficient scoring game against the Pistons: 20 points in 21 minutes. He hit three 3 point shots during the game, passing Kirk Hinrich to become the franchise record holder for most 3 pointers made in their rookie season (145).

Markkanen grabbed 8 rebounds and 2 steals before sitting to ensure the tank. Overall, he finished with 1033 points and 508 rebounds in 68 games played, a very solid rookie season.

Last but not least, for the final time this season…

The Worst Records in the NBA:

1. Phoenix Suns 21-61 .256

2. Memphis Grizzlies 22-60 .268

3. Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks 24-58 .293

5. Orlando Magic 25-57 .305

6. Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings 27-55 .329

8. Brooklyn Nets 28-54 .341

9. New York Knicks 29-53 .354